This morning I met with a good friend and recovery buddy for coffee. We’d agreed to meet after I texted him last week saying it would be good to talk about my general anxiety and apathy towards LiFE. This also includes my avoidance of committing to his upcoming wedding celebration this summer. As always, we ended up having a really useful conversation.
One of the major talking points focused on positive and negative reinforcers. The idea being that it’s important to keep a sense of moving forward with me at all times. That I am progressing through LiFE, rather than ending up in a rut or going backwards. Don’t get me wrong, there are clearly times when a little quiet, reflective time is needed, so I stop and do NOTHiNG for a while, but generally LiFE and REALiTY is about the tendency towards complexity. LiFE is progressive.
It turns out that I use negative reinforcers all the time, rather than positive ones. For example, I will say to myself, if I don’t do any writing today, then I can’t play any Xbox later. This is a lose/lose statement, because I’m telling myself that it’s easier to avoid work and therefore be punished, than it is to do the work and be rewarded. In this scenario, what I end up doing is rebelling and saying FUCK IT, like an angry child. I storm off and go and do what I want anyway, except I feel bad for not doing the work and guilty for taking the reward.
A positive reinforcer would be, I will do some writing and then play some Xbox. This is a win/win, as I progress with my work and then receive the reward for my effort. The positive reinforcer is far more likely to support my dopamine release system, making me feel good about myself and is thus far more likely to provide me with a sense of motivation and enthusiasm towards what I am doing.
I could go a step further and place boundaries around my goals too, by saying that I will write for one hour and then play Xbox for one hour. This way I have clearly given myself a set of rules to follow in order that I don’t allow my addict to control my behaviour. This works for both workaholism, whereby I just keep writing until I burn out and the addict when it comes to rewarding myself.
I’m going to CONSCiOUSLY implement positive reinforcers for the next couple of weeks and see if this changes both my productivity with my writing but also my general mood when it comes to LiFE.
One of the other things that we spoke about, which I found really interesting, is how my interpretation around my significant LiFE events is changing as I write about them.
I’ve had three major “spiritual” moments in my life and two significant epiphanies. The first at 18 months old, the second at age 16 and then third and most recent one at 36. The first two I have always considered to be “mental health” issues, whereas I have been adamant that the third was “spiritual”. What’s really interesting is that as I’ve processed the first two, I’ve started to see them as initial awakenings, rather than psychotic/mental breaks. What’s strange is that I’m now doubting my actual spiritual experiencing and questioning if that wasn’t a state of psychosis.
This is the premise of my book, that mental illness and spirituality are in fact one and the same. What if, in order to control the worlds population, we are told that “spiritual” experiences are actually mental breaks from REALiTY? And we’re then given medication to suppress the spiritual, rather than being encouraged to explore it.
Imagine a world filled with fully CONSCiOUS beings? EGOiC forces such as money, war, poverty, hunger etc. would all disappear overnight and we would know peace. I think there is something to this, because I’m now becoming more comfortable seeing all three of my “experiences”, as both mental breaks and spiritual awakenings.
I’m finding this uncomfortable at the moment, as I’m still in mid process. Accepting that I may have had a psychotic break back in 2015, when I was 36, is painful, as it felt like such a profound spiritual experience. I do understand the need to see it from both perspectives though, as it will help me relate what I experienced to a much wider demographic than if I just saw it from a singular perspective. There is definitely some internal resistance to admitting the possibility of mental illness too, as I like to believe that I am getting better, rather than admitting that I might still be ill.
This evening I’ve been to a local writers group, which was lovely. I’m starting to feel more confident about putting myself out there and meeting new people. I was disheartened to learn that the average yearly earnings for a writing is only £12,000, which seems ridiculous. At least it’s made me aware that I need to support my earnings through other means, which might include going back into IT or monetising my blogging for example. Either way, I don’t have an infinite reserve of credit, so I do need to seriously consider what I’m going to do with my work LiFE over the next few years.